I recently heard a mom recite the Emily Perl Kingsley poem, “Welcome to Holland. This has been the mainstay of describing parental emotions for decades. When I first heard it, I understood the message as a newbie parent and was also willing to accept that message and remain in Holland. However, this time, thirty years later, I was struck with a different reaction when hearing it.
I started thinking things like: Why can’t I go to Paris? and Who says I can’t go there? Why isn’t Italy accessible if Holland is? and Who do I have to talk with to address this issue? Why hasn’t anybody addressed this issue yet?
Sure, Holland is a nice place with windmills and tulips, but that wasn’t the ticket I purchased and as far as I am concerned, you can put my bags right back on the plane to Italy and issue me another boarding pass because I am not willing to settle for a segregated special place but rather equal access to the same places as my non-disabled peers.
I know I am treading on sacred mommy ground but I do wonder if this is the right message that seems destined to survive the test of time: that simply because I have become a parent of a child with a disability, I should expect and be entitled to less than anyone else and accept the fact that Italy is only for others and not for me. I’m sorry but I have never been able to accept that so make room in first class and see you in Italy or anywhere others go as I reject special and embrace equal.
Yes, I am an individual with a disability who is otherwise qualified to do what others do with reasonable accommodations. Basic civil rights are not bestowed they are claimed.